Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear – it’s all falling apart for the holier-than-thous who claim to represent the Jewish people – against the will of many of them – in the fight against anti-Semitism.
Organisations like the Campaign Against Antisemitism have already been found to have issued bare-faced lies in attempts to accuse innocent people of anti-Jewish behaviour. The Jewish Labour Movement’s director used to work for the Israeli embassy, a revelation that prompted Jewish activists to say the JLM is entirely unsuitable to conduct training on anti-Semitism because the current Israeli government tries to confuse anti-Semitism with criticism of its policies and behaviour. The JLM has also asked police to investigate the activities of its chairman Jeremy Newmark over financial irregularities.
Now, Labour Against Antisemitism has been accused of flinging mud at Jennie Formby, a left-wing candidate to become the new general secretary of the Labour Party.
According to LAAS, “Jennie Formby was reportedly forced to leave her role as Political Director of Unite the Union in 2016, after making antisemitic comments regarding the suitability of Baroness Royall to conduct an NEC inquiry into alleged antisemitism among Labour students at Oxford University. Ms Formby apparently referred to Baroness Royall’s purported membership of Labour Friends of Israel and a trip to Israel as reasons for her unsuitability for the role.”
LAAS supported this claim with reference to the dodgy IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism, falsely claiming that the definition states, “it is antisemitic to accuse ‘Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations’.” In fact, this is not a part of the definition, but a suggested example intended to guide people in deciding whether activities are anti-Semitic. LAAS went on to state – correctly – that “antisemitic discrimination also includes the denial to Jews of opportunities or services available to others”.
But the claim that “in reportedly seeking to prevent an investigation by Baroness Royall Ms Formby would have been acting with antisemitic intent” is defeated by one simple fact: Nobody in LAAS has any idea whether Baroness Royall is Jewish or not. It is impossible to be anti-Semitic to somebody who isn’t Jewish.
In any case, it is a false claim, as Unite the Union made clear in a statement.
It said: “This statement issued today (Thursday) by Labour Against Anti-semitism (LAAS) is a malicious smear against Jennie Formby.
“Ms Formby served Unite with distinction as Unite Political Director. She successfully applied to be the union’s South-East Regional Secretary, and was never under any pressure to leave her previous post. She is as accomplished in her new job as she was in her previous roles.
“A statement was issued to the media at the time of Ms Formby’s move in 2016 to this effect so the reasons for her move are well-documented. Her application for her new job predated the debate on Labour’s NEC regarding the establishment of what became the Royall inquiry.
“At that NEC discussion, Jennie Formby voted for Ms Jan Royall’s appointment, and argued for her inquiry to be properly resourced by the Party.
“For LAAS to therefore continue to allege to the press and on social media that Ms Formby was `forced’ to move and that this was in relation to alleged antisemitic comments is a lie motivated by hostility to anyone who supports the struggle of the Palestinian people for justice.
“Ms Formby is a lifelong opponent of anti-semitism and all forms of racism. LAAS’s smears have no place in Labour’s democracy or political culture.”
LAAS is fronted by Euan Philipps, chair of Tonbridge and Malling Constituency Labour Party. He wrote a libellous blog article about This Writer on the Huffington Post website, so it is clear that he enjoys a questionable relationship with factual accuracy. The HuffPost‘s lawyers reckon his comments were “honest opinion” but that has to be based on accurate facts, so they are both in a highly actionable situation.
I’ll let you know how this strand of the story develops.
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